Blatty's comedy heritage pushed through in the crazy goings on of the inmates, who spent much of their time adapting Shakespeare for dogs (wondering if Hamlet should be played by a Great Dane). This first hour of black comedy was noisy and hectic, but it picked up in the second hour as it got into deeper water (as Kermode put it, TNC is a psychological thriller about the existence of God). Some parts felt tedious to watch, but there were some powerful ideas and images (Jesus on the crucifix on the surface of the moon being a particularly memorable one) and the whole thing lingered later in my mind. Kermode promised to tell us why we enjoyed it afterwards but didn't really talk about it much, choosing instead to speak entertainingly about films - as you might expect - delivering the kind of circuitous but elucidating rambling familiar to listeners of his Radio 5 show. He also presented us with the central thesis of his new book: that diminished expectations of the modern Hollywood movie are causing audiences to suffer tosh that they don't really enjoy, whilst films such as Inception prove that assuming the audience has some level of intelligence doesn't rule out healthy box office takings. Bar a diverting series of Danny Dyer impressions and an unhealthy fascination with Zak Efron's hair, much of the remaining time was spent discussing modern multiplexes and the poor experience they tend to provide; namely, impolite audiences with no ushers to keep them in line and a lack of care regarding the noble art of projection. (Which serves to remind me that we in Oxford are very lucky to have the range of independent and arthouse cinemas we do, and that we should continue to cherish them.)
I would have preferred more time spent talking about specific films than the technicalities of projection, digital stock and of course 3D (Kermode's bête noire), but nonetheless Kermode is an engaging speaker. He is passionate and knowledgeable about cinema and the role of the critic and as such is definitely a voice worth listening to on these topics. His observations about modern cinema and culture are important: he defends all of us who enjoy films by pointing out why we should be dissatisfied with the deal we are getting from Hollywood and the multiplex chains. He makes us question the things we have learnt to tolerate because he believes we deserve better. I will leave it to your judgement as to whether it is best not to think about such things, or to have your complacency stirred into mild annoyance - but can confirm that the mild annoyance was delivered in an enjoyable way.